|Matthew Macfadyen as a smouldering Mr Darcy|
'But all those men from the past were doing manual work, even the posh ones were riding and generally doing manly things, weren't they?' I hear you say. But Macfadyen rightly points out that a character in a period drama wouldn't have done crunches. A six-pack is something that can only be achieved in the gym with specific exercises – it is a modern phenomenon.
He talks of being expected to sculpt his torso for his role as Mr Darcy and also having acted in a series about soldiers in the former Yugoslavia and working with the Royal Greenjackets – some of the fittest men he had ever encountered and none of them sporting a six-pack. Macfadyen is taking a stand against the vanity of it all and I thoroughly approve.
|Some gratuitous nudity – not a sculpted calf in sight!|
It is the female body that has been scrutinised for centuries and wilfully shaped to meet the desires of men and now our inherently narcissistic culture is forcing a similar set of expectations on men. It's tempting to say as women that we have been subject to the male gaze for long enough and now its our turn to shift the gaze onto men. But this makes me uncomfortable; I feel it is something we should resist as it is reductive and shallow.
If Macfadyen can manage to be a sex symbol and remain fully clothed then more power to him and, if truth be told, I'd take him over Turner any day.
Elizabeth Fremantle's novel WATCH THE LADY will be published in June.
To find out about her Tudor trilogy go to ElizabethFremantle.com
Twitter – @lizfremantle
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